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Women's minister warns against 'honour killings'

Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on March 11, 2010.

CHRIS WATTIE

The federal minister for the status of women went to an immigrant health centre Monday to issue a warning that honour killings and other violence against women will not be tolerated in Canada.

"There is a small minority in some communities who use violence against women as a method of avenging their so-called honour," Rona Ambrose said at the Punjabi Community Health Services in Mississauga, west of Toronto, which is home to many immigrants from South Asia.

"Let me be explicit: This type of violence, the most extreme of which is often known as 'honour killing,' has no place in Canadian society," Ms. Ambrose said. "Killing or mutilating anyone, least of all a family member, is utterly unacceptable under all circumstances, and will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

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The Conservatives have spent much time and capital courting the South Asian communities and Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week appointed a Pakistani immigrant who was a Tory candidate in the 2008 election to the Senate.

But they have also made crime-fighting their top domestic policy issue.

So-called honour crimes "are an extreme and brutal violation of the values we hold dear, and it is shameful that there are those who encourage or tolerate them," Ms. Ambrose said. "... Being a member of Canadian society comes with the responsibility of upholding Canadian laws and values."

Mississauga was the location of one of the most shocking cases of honour killing in recent Canadian history.

Aqsa Parvez rebelled against the rules established by her father Muhammad, an immigrant from Pakistan who had eight children. The 16-year-old wanted to stop wearing the hijab, wanted get a part-time job, wanted to wear Western clothes to school and wanted spend time with her friends.

On Dec. 10,2007, she was strangled by her 60-year-old father, aided by her 29 year-old brother. Ms. Parvez's mother told the court that her husband said: "My community will say you have not been able to control your daughter. This is my insult. She is making me naked."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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